Standing with Youth for Climate Justice

By Janet Weil

“You are not mature enough to tell it like it is. Even that burden you leave to us children.” – Greta Thunberg, Swedish climate activist


In all my years of activism, I had never heard anything like it. A shiver of nervous excitement ran through me.
The high, piercing voice of a girl on a megaphone demanded: “Tell me what democracy looks like!” A chorus of mostly teen girls shouted back: “This is what democracy looks like!”
A boisterous crowd of a few hundred self-led youth and children, with a handful of adults, we marched uphill in downtown Los Angeles. We were adding our small part to the worldwide Student Strike for Climate Action, in which 1.6 million participated in over 125 countries.
The march was more like a trot, and I was having a bit of a sweaty struggle to keep up. I was relieved when the march stopped briefly near the iconic Disney Concert Hall. A group of Latina high school students formed a line for photos and chants.


Some students’ colorful signs reflected grim humor: “If you fail our planet/ good luck/ getting elected on Mars” and “Sunscreen won’t save you forever”. Some were nature-centered: “Plant Trees/ Save Bees/ Clean Seas.” Much love of the natural world and artistic flourishes had gone into the making of their messages.
As we trooped past the huge, fortress-like headquarters of the LA Police Department, a song familiar from my high school days burst out: “Everywhere we go/ people wanna know/ who we are/ so we tell them/ mighty, mighty students/ fighting for justice…” The “fighting for justice” part was different. These kids weren’t yelling for their basketball team. I thought back to the desperate anger I had felt as a teen during the Vietnam War.
The crisis that threatens this generation of youth dwarfs even a decades-long war. As both the U.S. government’s National Climate Assessment and the UN’s IPCC report documented in late 2018, we are in a national and a global emergency. Atmospheric carbon dioxide is the highest in 800,000 years. Emissions are rising, not decreasing. We – in California, but also all over the world — are already suffering the effects of a rise of just over 1 degree Celsius: harsher and more frequent storms, wildfires, droughts, crop failures, unpredictable weather.


The march looped back to LA City Hall. I complimented a boy on his large sign, and we exchanged info on our home towns; his, Venice Beach and mine, Palm Springs. We gave each other a small nod of approval and a “thanks for being here.” After talking to Alissa, an adult activist at the Extinction Rebellion table, and getting a sticker from the Center for Biological Diversity folks, I took a seat in a grassy area above the small stage to listen to the rally.
An indigenous woman led us in a heart-opening ritual to the seven directions: east, south, west, north, above, below, inside. Scientist Peter Kalmus, whose two sons have been climate striking on Fridays at Pasadena’s City Hall, spoke briefly, followed by his son Zack: “I strike because the Earth is so beautiful…” A hush fell on the crowd at his words.


A Chicana high school student cried out: “We are more than a hashtag! We are the generation who will have to deal with this! I would rather be in school.” Another girl spoke of her terror during the wildfires last November, and her feeling of dread at the approach of summer.
‎From Boulder, Colorado, Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, an environmental justice activist since age 6 (he’s now 18), performed his spoken word piece, then changed to “rally speech.” He observed, “It used to be me and a bunch of old white people, talking about climate change. And shout out to all the old white people” – I grinned – “but now is OUR time!”
In the wave of applause that followed, I didn’t clap or cheer, because a huge lump rose in my throat and grief overwhelmed me. Why should these young people have to face such a bleak future?
So what is left for us, their elders, to do?
Educate ourselves on both the crisis and the solutions; I recommend the book “Drawdown” for starters. Decrease our own emissions by flying and driving less. Speak up in public and private — but don’t waste time on the deniers. Support young activists, and take up some share of the burden. This fight for climate justice has the potential to draw humanity, and the generations, together in the face of a shared existential threat.


I am grateful to the young people I shared an afternoon with. They could have spurned me or asked me to leave. Instead, there was a shared feeling of concern and trust that I will cherish. My feet were sore, and my heart was full.

Janet Weil is a longtime activist for peace and justice. She lives in the California desert town of Palm Springs with her husband and many hummingbirds. You can find her on Twitter: @JanetRWeil.

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Breaking News -Four Youth Strikers arrested in London for obstruction of highway

Photo credits: Snowflake Foxtrot

Fourth arrest:

Policeman, picking him up: ‘Are you okay?’

Young man approx 14 years old: ‘The planet is not okay, and that’s what matters.’

Policeman: ‘This isn’t going to help the planet’.

Me, with at least 10 other cameras around filming: ‘His voice is being heard, that’s what matters’.

Words: Snowflake Foxtrot

Students, Sunrise and Rebels unite to defy extinction

Originally posted here: https://theelders.org/news/students-sunrise-and-rebels-unite-defy-extinction

On 15 March students from around the world will join a global Youth Strike for Climate, leaving school and college to demand that their leaders urgently take climate action. In this guest blog Farhana Yamin, CEO at Track 0 and Extinction Rebellion Activist and Jake Woodier, an organiser of #YouthStrike4Climate explain why.

Politicians beware. Young people are demanding answers from governments to some tough questions.

  • Why have scientific warnings about the climate and ecological crisis been ignored for so long?
  • What emergency actions can now be put in place to stop the extinction of life on Earth?

Tired of the apathy and denialist campaigns funded by vested interests, young people are taking to the streets and joining new social movements that are demanding solutions be put in place in 10 years or less.

That timeframe more or less matches the 12 year deadline given by the United Nation’s chief scientific body, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). In October 2018, the IPCC spelt out the consequences of what a hotter more disruptive climate would look like. Unless we cut global greenhouse gases emissions by 50% in the next 11 years, billions of people would be exposed to increased storms, wildfires, droughts, floods, acidified oceans and sea level rise which would result in water and food shortages and mass migration.

Students strike for climate in London in February 2019. (Photo: Socialist Appeal/Flickr)

Fearing for their future and acting out of solidarity with their fellow global citizens, this week hundreds of thousands of young people are expected to walk out of schools and colleges to join the school strike movement. They are inspired by 16 year old Greta Thunberg, who in August 2018 stopped going to school on Fridays to sit outside the Swedish Parliament and demand climate action. Since then, thousands of young people around the world have joined the Youth Strike 4 Climate movement with campaigns now active in around 71 countries. In Belgium, around 50,000 children and young people take to the streets every Friday. The UK’s student movement is gathering momentum. The first national strike resulted in 15,000 students and young people ditching classrooms to demonstrate a need for radical and urgent action to achieve climate justice for current and future generations. 

Anna Taylor, 17, co-founder or the UK Student Climate Network which is coordinating the mobilizations explains:

“The burden of holding powerful actors to account over their climate records has unfortunately fallen on the young. We’ve been betrayed by the climate inaction of previous generations. We’re having to rise up and fight for those around the world already suffering the devastating effects of climate change, and for our very futures.”

The youth led Sunrise Movement rally in San Francisco in December 2018. (Photo: Peg Hunter/Flickr)

Long held attitudes of moderation are now woefully insufficient given the global climate emergency we all face. From the “Green New Deal’s 10 year plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero in ways that generate clean jobs, supported by the youth-led Sunrise movement and championed by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, to the Extinction Rebellion’s campaign of mass civil disobedience to dismantle the toxic systems that are putting all life on Earth at risk, it is clear that the desire to build a more inclusive society based on respecting nature’s boundaries is beginning to reshape politics.

No-one knows what will happen and no-one can say for sure whether or not fundamental ecological tipping points have already been breached. The good news is that there are millions of people – old and young – who are mobilising around the world to stop humanity from falling off a cliff.   

Extinction Rebellion protest at Oxford Circus, London in November 2018 (Photo: David Holt / Flickr)

We can and must succeed in catalysing a peaceful revolution to end the era of fossil fuels and economic systems based on the extraction and extinction of nature. Life on Earth literally depends on it.

That is why we will be supporting students on strike and all those working to defend life on Earth. As citizens around the world join together to courageously speak truth to power, we hope you will give your full support to strikers and rebels where ever you are.

Views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Elders or The Elders Foundation.

Youth of XR #1

This speech was planned to be read during the Youth Strike 4 Climate, in Exeter on February 15th. Youth Strike for Climate is an international movement that is gaining traction and support all the time. February 15th was the first mass countrywide UK action. Exeter was one of the biggest events. XR unequivocally supports Youth Strikes. Some Youth Strike members are also XR Youth members, including in Exeter. Thanks to ‘Jack’ for the YouTube video above. Jack, please get in touch -one of our editors would like to create some content with you!

Greatest Power

by Molly Bovet, 17 years old

To those with the greatest power, from those who must break the system to claim it:

There never should have been a ‘time for waiting’, and now even those stolen years have run out.

Your generation has failed to keep us safe in this time, and now we, your children, are left to pick up the pieces and provoke you into action. The promises that have been made and the plans that have been discussed so far are too vague and too idle.

We have, at best, twelve years left before the state of our planet becomes catastrophic and we run out of time for action; that is not time that can be wasted like the politicians and major companies of the world have wasted the years leading up to this.

You are the ones who have created this mess and now we are here to force you into action. You are the ones with the power to help us.

Children are raised to be quiet when they’re angry and to do as they’re told, but this is one issue that we cannot be silenced on.

In just the past twenty five years, you have emitted more CO2 than the entirety of the human race before you. The climate we have been born and raised in, the climate that you have created, is born of obliteration.

We may even see climate collapse as soon as within the next five years, and if we don’t amend that, cultural collapse will inevitably follow within our lifetimes.

Even these horrific facts are things that we have had to seek out ourselves; our schools do not equip us with the knowledge and ability to mitigate the worst-case scenarios. Nor do they teach us about the direness of our climate situation or how we can live low carbon lifestyles.

We do not want to live in fear but you give us no choice. We trusted you, the adults, to keep us safe but you have failed to secure our future.

You want to raise good kids, people who will be kind to one another and the world around them, work passionately and take their educations seriously. These kids are here, begging at your feet to spare us a future in flames. We will care for this earth and its creatures. We will love every precious second that we are here; just as long as you do the same.

Image associée


La tierra transformada, Joaquín Clausell (1910)




This is my only planet 

by Holly Errington

*

This is my only planet

I must defend it

This is your beautiful planet

You must help us

*

Tired of endless excuses

Governments saying “We’ll fix it later”

And walking away with a smirk

*

Their pockets full and our planet empty

No,

We will not settle for later

Yes,

We don’t care if you think we’re crazy

*

We can band together

Rise up

Join forces

Stop this

*

Climate change

Habitat loss

Ocean acidification

are happening now

*

Do not let others pollute your vision

Be a protector of precious life  

Let us hold hope by the hand

Pray that we will be sitting amongst wildlife

In years to come

Talking about our defiance

And victory

Against this ecological destruction


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We Have the Facts, We Will Have Climate Justice

by Lauren Fenton, 18 years old

In a world where governments care more about money than the environment, it has been left to the people to decide which shade of green we want for our planet.

With an estimated 18 billion pounds of plastic waste entering the world oceans from coastal regions annually and Donald Trump looking to re-open coal mines in the USA, it is now down to the people to make the change.

But we need the support of the government, we need them to wake up and take responsibility and write legally binding agreements to cap the global temperature rise by less than the tipping point.

Limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius is not good enough. A two-degree increase in the average global temperature means that mountain glaciers and rivers will start to disappear, 10% of the world’s population will be displaced due to sea level rise and A THIRD OF ALL LIFE ON EARTH WILL FACE EXTINCTION!

As a population we need to band together to pressure the officials to enforce a mandatory cap in temperature rise at 1.5 degrees C above pre-industrial levels and become carbon neutral by 2030. By the time we reach 2050 It will be too late.

In 2014, only 5 countries accounted for 70% of global CO2 emissions: China, the United States, the European Union, the Russian Federation and Japan. This sparked the launch of the “land mark agreement” to combat climate change in 2015 – COP 21, The Paris agreement, Which THE USA HAS NOW PULLED OUT OF.

China is so far the only country to make a major difference, announcing plans to invest over $USD 3 Billion in renewable energy. Whist the EU’s aim is become carbon neutral by 2050 and cut energy use by 20% below business-as-usual projections by 2020. This is NOT good enough! We are the 3rd largest contributor to CO2 emissions globally and our member states are among the wealthiest countries in the world. With these stats there is NO EXCUSE for not making more of an effort to become carbon neutral! Because of our governments idleness we are now on track for a global temperature rise of 2.7 degrees C, 0.7 above the tipping point.

Despite all these statistics, there has still been no legally binding agreement to combat climate change since 2009. And there are still countries refusing the latest agreement (Katowice 2018), including the USA, Russia and Saudi Arabia. Knowing this, how can we rely on governments who are not willing to make a sacrifice to save the planet? If the temperature continues to rise there will be no trade, there will be displacement of people and there will be extinction!

We have the facts. We have the power. We will have Climate Justice.

  • By Lauren Fenton